“Human beings are made up of flesh and blood, and a miracle fiber called courage.”
– George S. Patton.
Honor the fallen soldier. The sailor, the airman and the Marine. We honor those who held the line, who volunteered or went because they were told to go. Leaving their family, friends and freedom behind, our heroes fought for us. Over time, they have used different weapons: a sword, a musket, a bayonet, a rifle, a machine gun. They fought at Lexington and Concord when our nation was born, crossed the Delaware on Christmas Day of 1776, fought against their brothers in Gettysburg, stormed the beaches of Normandy, fought in “the war to end all wars” and “the forgotten war.” Some marched into battle on foot, others rode on horseback, later in Jeeps or tanks or Humvees. But it was always our warriors that fought freedom’s greatest enemies and did not waver. Our warriors—sons, brothers, daughters, sisters, mothers—confronted evil face-to-face on that distant battlefield. When the nation called, they answered. For you.
President George Washington expressed remarkable insight when he spoke about the country’s treatment of veterans: “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” What have you done for a veteran you know? This is what North Shore Students were asked by our nation’s heroes.
On November 11 of each year, Veterans Day is celebrated throughout the United States with various celebrations and recognition of America’s veterans. At North Shore, we recognized Veterans Day this past week, as Dr. Vitow organized for students to have the privilege of meeting our “Hometown Heroes,” a panel of three veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as three veterans of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). Watching our American veterans laugh alongside each other as they share their most gratifying experiences, it was obvious that these men share a unique brotherhood: the brotherhood of the United States military. They held a friendship that can be found only upon signing the dotted line, reserving for themselves a position among the world’s most elite forces.
There is something about those who have worn the uniform. Our veterans define brotherhood not in words, but in actions. In moments that cannot be fought alone, our courageous men and women put their lives on the line for each other. It is the honorary call of duty that unites these men and women, across all branches of service, to defend the red, white, and blue. I’m sure most North Shore students would agree that meeting our brave veterans this past week was truly an honor. In the words of junior Paige Mayer, “I found the program very meaningful. Hearing the soldiers speaking about their experiences in the army really made me think, especially when they said that each fellow soldier was like family.” Another North Shore junior, Ari Azar said, “The veteran’s program was very interesting. I even stayed long past my class’s allotted time to learn more information and hear more advice and stories that every American should appreciate. We should be more willing to learn from our veterans.”
Aside from learning about the challenges our veterans faced and the lessons instilled in them from their days of service, North Shore students were also thrown into some hardcore field ops. Complete with camouflaged faces and “Red Bull” vitality, students stomped boots on the ground. This was no easy feat. The commands of our IDF veteran “drill sergeant” were often met with disbelief and a lot of “I don’t think so’s.” Yet, students were forced to bite the bullet and work as one well-oiled machine. When reflecting on the military drill training, Paige Mayer adds, “I also really enjoyed the physical activities, even though they were a lot of work! It gave me a new appreciation for how hard the soldiers work to protect us.” Whether navigating our way around North Shore’s expansive grounds (did you know our school has a lake?), training as stretcher-bearers as we all pull the weight of our “troops’” water supply underneath the two-foot netting, or fervently chanting a marching cadence as students sling one another over the ropes, North Shore students learned what it means to say “no man left behind.” Despite the treacherous fight, North Shore’s trench monkey boot camp closed with a loud hooah.
This Veterans Day, remember the fallen and never forget those deployed. Happy Veterans Day to all of those whose loved ones have or are serving in the armed forces. When you stand for the flag, know that it is because of their supreme sacrifice that you live in this country and can appreciate the American Promise: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
And so, the patriot’s signature rallying cry goes…
And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I’d gladly stand up
Next to you and defend her still today
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt
I love this land
God bless the USA
—Chloe Mastour is a junior at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School (NSHAHS)